Western Bulldogs Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs in action during the Western Bulldogs AFL training session at Whitten Oval on May 18, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs star Josh Dunkley has recalled the vile backlash he received on social media following a costly error he made in the 2018 season.

In what was a tight encounter with Sydney at Marvel Stadium three years ago, Dunkley, who was 21 years of age at the time, dropped a regulation mark and subsequently turned the ball over in the dying moments of the game.

The Swans went on to win the game by Seven points, with the Bulldogs’ hopes of landing the four premiership points out of reach after Dunkley’s crucial miscalculation deep forward.

In an article Dunkley wrote for ESPNthe gun midfielder revealed the extent of messages he received from angered fans after the match, with one standing out above the rest.

“In my desperation to try and switch off from what had happened a few hours earlier, I decided to lean on social media,” Dunkley wrote.

“It’s fair to say, that wasn’t the greatest idea I’ve ever had. What I saw horrified me.

“My Instagram DMs were overflowing with literally hundreds of abusive messages, but one of them really stood out. Someone had actually sent me a Google Maps screenshot which had directions from Marvel Stadium to the West Gate Bridge.

“Here I am, just a 21-year-old kid, being advised by a disgruntled ‘fan’ to commit suicide after making an error in a game. No matter what the coaching staff and senior players tell you, you can’t help but feel responsible for the loss when you see something like that.

“Seeing that image made me feel sick to my stomach. Without any doubt, that was the lowest I have ever felt after a game. It was my rock bottom. All I wanted to do was hide.

“After a night of tossing and turning in bed, I decided to report the offenders and actually change my Instagram profile to ‘private’. I also learned a valuable lesson that day — never check social media after a game, particularly a loss. It’s something I still practice today.”

As the years have gone on, social media’s has been both a benefit and detriment to to the league, with players facing constant backlash and criticism that looks to step over the proverbial line.

More recently, Greater Western Sydney veteran Callan Ward revealed he was on the end of receiving death threats from fans last year after the Giants’ clash with Essendon.

Ward was awarded a free kick against the Bombers late into the match and booted a goal to seal victory for his side, with the 31-year-old stating his disgust of what he received from disgruntled fans.

“I know it’s the reality and it’s social media – I won’t listen to all of it but there are people out there who do. And it has to stop. If you’re getting death threats like I did – there are some players who couldn’t handle that,” Ward said on 3AW at the time.